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Matthew 18:21-22 & meaning...

Then 

Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.”

Matthew 18:21-22

Context

“Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.”

Matthew 18 [21.] Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?”

Matthew 18 [22.] Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”


Meaning:

  • Peter's Inquiry:

Limit of Forgiveness: Peter, seeking clarity on the extent of forgiveness, proposes a seemingly generous limit of forgiving up to seven times. In the cultural context, this could be perceived as a commendable level of patience and forbearance.

The Question of Limits: Peter's question reveals a common human concern—how much forgiveness is enough? By suggesting a specific number, he attempts to quantify a virtue that Jesus later reveals as boundless.

  • Jesus' Response:

Beyond Limits: Jesus responds by shattering the concept of limited forgiveness, declaring, "until seventy times seven." This expression transcends mathematical calculation, signifying an infinite and boundless call to forgive.

Radical Forgiveness: The use of such a large number communicates the radical nature of forgiveness expected in the Kingdom of God. It challenges human notions of justice and retribution, introducing a divine perspective that seeks reconciliation over retaliation.

  • The Essence of Forgiveness:

Heart Attitude: Jesus' response emphasizes the heart attitude behind forgiveness. It's not merely about counting offenses but cultivating a spirit of relentless mercy and grace. The call to forgive "seventy times seven" underscores the transformative power of forgiveness in relationships.

Reflecting God's Forgiveness: The expansive nature of forgiveness aligns with the character of God, whose forgiveness knows no bounds. It invites believers to mirror God's mercy in their interactions, recognizing that their capacity to forgive is a reflection of the forgiveness they have received.


Practical Application:

Forgiveness as a Process: Matthew 18:21-22 challenges believers to see forgiveness as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. It encourages a continuous, intentional choice to release resentment and extend grace, even when faced with repeated offenses.

Embracing Divine Perspective: The passage invites believers to adopt a divine perspective on forgiveness. It encourages them to view forgiveness not as a burdensome obligation but as a reflection of God's boundless mercy, transforming relationships and fostering reconciliation.


Cross-References:

Colossians 3:13: "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." This verse echoes the spirit of Matthew 18:21-22, emphasizing forgiveness as a response to God's forgiveness and encouraging believers to extend the same grace to others.

Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." The call to forgive in Ephesians resonates with the teachings of Jesus, emphasizing the model of forgiveness demonstrated by God in Christ.


In conclusion, Matthew 18:21-22 unfolds a profound teaching on forgiveness, urging us to transcend limited notions and embrace a boundless, transformative approach. It challenges us to embody the radical forgiveness modeled by God, fostering reconciliation and reflecting the mercy we have received.


PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible